Female athlete dreams of making NFL in Toyota ad
Antoinette “Toni” Harris often tells people she’s going to be in the Super Bowl someday. Well, this year she’s going to be on it.
The sophomore football player at a California community college will star in Toyota’s ad for its 2019 RAV4 hybrid. The conceit is that the automobile and the free safety both defy expectations.
“I plan to be the first female NFL player,” she tells USA TODAY. “Drafted or undrafted, as long as I get there, with God’s will.”
She’s already broken barriers as a position player at East Los Angeles College. That’s a real rarity, as women playing college football have typically been kickers.
Harris, 22, is considering four scholarship offers to continue her academic and football careers: Bethany College, Adams State University, Graceland University and Kentucky Christian University. She says she’s not leaning toward one yet as she has until July to sign a national letter of intent and she wants to discover which one offers the best blend of academics and playing time.
The Detroit native was getting ready for a game last fall when an email arrived with an offer to star in Toyota’s Super Bowl ad. She’s had to keep it a secret since, except for close family members and a few others. Sunday she’ll watch the game with her family as cameras capture her watching herself.
“They’ve said a lot of things about Toni Harris,” Jim Nantz says in the commercial’s voiceover. “They said she was too small. They said she was too slow, too weak.”
All the while, the video shows her as fast and strong.
“Yeah, people have made a lot of assumptions about Toni,” Nantz’s voiceover says.
Then Harris turns to the camera and says with a smile: “But I’ve never been a big fan of assumptions.”
The ad is scheduled to run in the first ad break of the second quarter.
“The 2019 RAV4 HV is the vehicle that will shatter the perceptions of hybrids, much like how Toni is shattering perceptions of a football player,” Ed Lauckes said in a statement. He is group vice president, Toyota marketing, Toyota Motor North America.
Harris has her associate degree in social science and behavioral development with an emphasis in criminal justice. “I want to be a homicide detective with a background in forensics,” she says. That, of course, would come after her NFL career.
Antoinette “Toni” Harris, a football player at a California community college, stars in a Toyota ad that will air during the Super Bowl.